Great news that nearly 1000 council homes are to be bought, built and managed by Salford Council by 2021.
Social housing is desperately needed across the country, and this is a fantastic start to the ambitious targets the council will be pursuing to address the UK housing crisis here in Salford.
This is also a fitting tribute to the legacy of Paul Longshaw, who wanted to find a way to build new social houses when he joined the council in 2016, after spending his life leading the regeneration of Pendleton. He believed that a decent, secure and quality home was a human right, and new social homes in Salford will start to deliver that.
Its domestic policy on financing remains woefully inadequate
Last week, Paris hosted the One Planet Summit, of which the central purpose was to examine how private and public finance could be used to combat climate change.
There is a great gap between the rhetoric of the Tory Government on the issue of climate change and the reality. Although the UK Government made some meagre international financial commitments, its domestic policy on financing remains woefully inadequate.
During the recent budget, the Government sneaked out the announcement that there would be no new low carbon electricity levies until the burden of such costs is falling. On current forecasts this means no new carbon levies until 2025.
The potentially devastating effects of this on financial investment into renewable energy cannot be emphasised enough. Contracts for Difference, a type of levy to subsidise the development costs and initial financing, is currently the main means by which renewable energy generation is encouraged.
They guarantee a price that a producer receives, thus making financing the project easier and less risky. Much of the success of offshore wind, whose price has halved over the last two years, comes from the support it has received through Contracts for Difference.
Preventing further Contracts for Difference, without having put any alternative in place, not only undermines offshore wind, but threatens the progress of less developed renewable technologies, such as tidal power. They will now be expected to compete with more developed technologies for what remains of the current pot without having had the initial investment they need to bring down their price to a more competitive level.
My colleague, Alan Whitehead MP, tried to ask the Minister Jo Johnson MP in parliament earlier this week whether he supported the new Control for levies and what the effects would be on our carbon reduction targets. Unsurprisingly he failed to receive a straight answer.
This demonstrates just how little the Government cares about funding efforts to tackle climate change, which is the biggest challenge facing our generation.
But it is by no means an isolated incident. In one of her first acts as Prime Minister, Theresa May completely scrapped the Department for Energy and Climate Change. She scrapped the £1 billion Carbon Capture and Storage competition, has failed to green light the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project and just recently sold off the Green Investment Bank on the cheap.
The measures announced in the Government’s 2017 Clean Growth Strategy were not even sufficient to meet either the fourth or fifth carbon budgets. These legally binding targets set restrictions on the total amount of greenhouse gases than can be emitted in the future by the UK. These targets stem from Labour’s landmark 2008 Climate Change Act. It is not good enough to leave the UK on course to miss these targets, we should be aiming to over perform on them.
This is why Labour wants to put climate change at the heart of our industrial strategy. At the last election, Labour pledged that 60% of the UK’s energy will come from low carbon or renewable sources by 2030 to help us meet the challenge of tackling climate change.
To achieve this we will take parts of our energy sector into public hands and explore ways of encouraging local communities to generate their own energy. We will cultivate strengths in green technology and invest in renewable energy infrastructure as well as reduce demand for heat to honour our national and international obligations.
Labour realises that climate change is an existential threat and that only bold action to prevent it will be required.
Climate change is at the heart of Labour’s industrial strategy, which means investing in green tech and renewable energy, and divesting from fossil fuels
The climate crisis is the most significant issue facing humanity. Natural disasters are already displacing entire communities. More intense droughts are leading to unprecedented levels of food insecurity and hunger across the globe. This summer saw hurricanes, floods and fires affect hundreds of millions of people from India to Niger, Haiti to Houston. The UK is also vulnerable to climate impacts, with more destructive storms, prolonged floods, and heatwaves becoming the norm.
Our climate reality is increasingly unpredictable and daunting. However, it is also opening the space to collectively reimagine a different future for the UK. Fossil fuels helped ignite the first industrial revolution, but we now know that their continued use will threaten our very existence. Within the UK we have the skills, ingenuity and people to drive the next energy revolution, powered by renewables. For us to make this change a success, our politics must have environmental sustainability and social justice at its core.
This is why climate change is at the heart of Labour’s industrial strategy. At the last election, Labour pledged that 60% of the UK’s energy will come from low carbon or renewable sources by 2030 to help us meet the challenge of tackling climate change. Labour plans to achieve this mission by transforming our energy system by taking parts back into public control and exploring how we can ensure greater local control of energy generation and supply. We want to cultivate strengths in growing markets for green tech, invest in renewable energy infrastructure, reduce demand for heat, and maintain Britain’s climate commitments.
Two years ago, representatives from 196 countries met in Paris and committed to limiting global temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, with the aspirational target below 1.5C. The UK ratified the landmark Paris agreement the following year, promising to “continue our leadership on climate action”.
Despite its green rhetoric, the government’s record is not good. Its Clean Growth Strategy even admitted that the measures it recommended would not fulfil either the fourth or fifth carbon budgets. These budgets are restrictions on the total amount of greenhouse gases than can be emitted in a five-year period by the UK and are legally binding; for example the fourth carbon budget covers the period 2023-27, and the fifth covers 2028-2032.
We should be over-performing on our carbon budgets, not underperforming. The most recent autumn budget even threatened the future of new renewable generation by not admitting any more new low carbon electricity levies until 2025, on current forecasts, while at the same time giving tax breaks to oil and gas firms. The implications of the new levy regime could be catastrophic. Without alternative funding, it may spell the end of much low carbon development in the UK. With the success offshore, this is the moment to be seizing the opportunity to develop other forms of renewable energy. The Tories continue to push fracking despite its unpopularity across the country. The result of Tory policy not only undermines our climate change obligations but means many suffer from the effects of air pollution and fuel poverty.
That’s why I’m joining 100 other MPs, across parties, to call on our pension fund to remove its investments in fossil fuels. Our words in Paris must be matched by our actions in parliament – our constituents expect nothing less. This starts, but by no means finishes, with where we invest millions of pounds through our pensions. But we need to open up this conversation beyond parliament to ensure a just transition to a green economy.
This campaign is the fastest growing divestment movement of all time, which has seen more than $5tn of assets divested across more than 800 institutions. Campaigning for our universities, workplaces, unions, and pension funds to divest is one important way we can help to build a more sustainable society. Parliament must play its part.
I was honoured to meet and support amazing and tireless anti blacklisting campaigners in the blacklisting day of action with Unite the Union.
From the 1970s, construction companies and indeed other industries right here in the UK secretly paid for information to be collected about workers. The only reason for this surveillance was to stop workers from gaining employment, especially those active in trade unions or who had raised concerns about their working conditions.
Workers who suspected that they had been blacklisted were unable to prove it; others had no idea why they were unable to get work and only found out they were blacklisted when they were informed by the authorities.
As a result, many were unable to get meaningful work and earning less money, or they were forced to leave the industry and ended up unemployed. This led to some having their homes repossessed; marriages broke down under the economic strain and some suffered physical and mental health problems.
Despite recent court cases highlighting the issue, reports suggest that this practice still takes place today.
Labour will hold a full public enquiry into blacklisting and hold those who blacklisted innocent workers to account. We will also take decisive action to end blacklisting forever, making it illegal, ensuring that no Government contracts are awarded to blacklisting companies and ensuring that trade unions have access to every workplace.
I was Absolutely knocked sideways by the performance of the Lowry Theatre presents Salford Young Carers and LUNG Theatre at the House of Lords today for the 'Who Cares' tour where they show the harsh realities of being a young carer and telling their own stories.
They have been on tour around the UK raising awareness and showing young carers that there is a support network out there.
What a strong and inspiring group of young people doing Salford proud, had councillor Lisa Stone, Barbara Keeley, Charlotte Ramsden and myself close to tears.
In the budget debate on Tuesday, I spoke in Parliament about how a substantial section of the Chancellor’s Budget speech last Wednesday focused on the productivity crisis, and rightly so.
Labour analysis has shown that you have to go back to 1820 when George the fourth ascended the throne, just after the Napoleonic wars, before you can find a time where productivity increased less than this over a ten year period.
The result is catastrophic….people are earning less now than they were ten years ago and as the Institute for Fiscal Studies state, by 2021 average earnings look set to be nearly £1,400 lower than forecast last year.
Now despite the Chancellor’s jovial attempts at talking up our ability to harness the 4th industrial revolution, the Office for Budget Responsibility, looked at his future investment plans and cut its forecast for growth in productivity.
But he still had one last chance… The Industrial Strategy.
It started well, but sadly, having looked into the detail, it seems little more than a repackaging of existing policies.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. SMEs account for 99.9 per cent of all private sector businesses and 60 per cent of all private sector employment in the UK. Their success is crucial for the success of our economy. This is why Small Business Saturday is so important to highlight the success of small businesses and to encourage consumers to use them. This is also why Labour, in its 2017 manifesto, committed to helping small businesses up and down the country.
I picked up a gorgeous Xmas wreath from the lovely ladies at Monton Florists, get down there before they all go! Just one of the amazing businesses we have in Salford.
Very proud of Salford Superstar Tallulah Eyres on Wednesday night, running her own seminar at London School of Economics on social mobility and how where you are born and economic back ground affects life chances and education.
Also there was David Camplin who spoke of his experience in Salford schools over the decades. how chronic underfunding and investment as well as incorrectly assessing capability and intelligence had held back the brightest and the best (which are many in Salford)
Then I added my tuppence worth too.
Good Education should be a right not a privilege and no child should fall through the cracks.
Concerns have begun to mount as to the government’s true dedication to such a policy.
Soaring energy bills are hammering millions of hard up households and businesses.
With the current cost of living crisis and wages falling in real terms, too many people are paying too much just to cover the cost of their basic energy usage.
Analysis by the Big Deal collective shows that customers on standard deals with the big six energy companies can end up paying £225 more than their cheapest deal. These are loyal customers, who are quite simply being ripped off by the Big Six, who for too long have had a stranglehold on our energy market.
Even more worryingly, recently a leaked transcript demonstrated just how much the government is influenced by the Big Six players. The transcript referred to discussions between government and energy investors and illustrated a clear willingness of the government to drop the proposed price cap if energy companies made efforts to reduce consumer bills.
This is simply not good enough. It’s time for this ailing government to take clear and robust action to get a better deal for the British public.
I have seen firsthand the destructive impact unsustainable energy prices has on our families, our neighbours and our friends. I have heard from countless people, detailing how they have to make tortuous decisions between food and fuel, but no one living in modern Britain should have to make that choice.
During the general election however, it appeared the Conservatives had listened to Labour’s calls and promised to introduce a cap on energy bills. The Prime Minister unequivocally promised to knock off at least £100 from the bills of over 17 million households.
Since then however we have experienced somewhat of a rollback on this promise. After press reports that the Big Six and indeed senior cabinet Ministers were lobbying the Prime Minster to drop the cap, it failed to make an appearance in the government's forthcoming legislative programme.
Following this the Prime Minister came under intense pressure to introduce the cap from not only Labour but even many of her own back bench MPs. This resulted in the publication of a draft bill, yet to make its way formally through Parliament, but so ambiguous it simply asked Ofgem to introduce a cap with no indication from government as to the parameters of such a cap, nor did it refer to a clear time scale for implementation.
We should be thankful that we saw any progress at all, but concerns have begun to mount as to the government’s true dedication to such a cap. Only last week the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy secretary Greg Clark repeatedly refused to promise that the price cap would be in place by next winter. He claimed that the government could not guarantee that the necessary legislation would be passed in time.
What’s even worse is that the price cap legislation proposed by the government, once finally passed, may only be in force for two winters, leaving households at the mercy of big energy companies who will be free to push up prices again.
It is clear therefore that the government has no visible plans to radically reform the energy market before 2020, rendering the proposed cap nothing but a sticking plaster -a short-term solution to a long term problem.
This barely functioning government seems more intent on clinging to power than to help struggling households with their spiralling energy costs. Their inability to act is forcing more and more vulnerable people into fuel poverty, who have been forced to pay, again and again, for their continued economic mismanagement. Currently, 1.14 million older people and just under a million households with at least one disabled person are forced to live in fuel poverty.
A future Labour government will introduce an emergency price cap to ensure that the average dual-fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year, whilst radically reforming the energy market to transition to a fairer system for bill payers.
Only Labour will provide much needed relief to overburdened households and only Labour will transform the energy system, harness sustainability and cut bills for your business and your household.
I recently visited the Amazing Valley Community Garden in Swinton as part of the community Impact week, where I met with some fantastic volunteers, including Anne, who has lived and volunteered in The Valley neighbourhood for the last 35 years.
Over the past five years, the garden has been a focal point for the Valley neighbourhood, to create a place where local people can meet and work together to grow veg, flowers and do great activities like the summer breakfast clubs.
I look forward to seeing the garden again when in full bloom in the summer.